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The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

Staff chili cookoff wraps up Black History Month celebration

Assistant+principal+Reggie+Miller+preps+components+of+his+Mexican+corn+dish+for+staff+to+taste.+This+was+the+second+annual+Black+History+Month+chili%2Fsidedish+cookoff.
photo by Levi Cal-Rivera
Assistant principal Reggie Miller preps components of his Mexican corn dish for staff to taste. This was the second annual Black History Month chili/sidedish cookoff.

Chili, shrimp and grits, lentil soup and collard greens were among the dishes created on Feb. 29 by school staff for the second annual Black History Month cookoff. Hosted by assistant principal Reggie Miller, over a dozen staff members cooked their favorite side dishes and soups for their fellow employees to enjoy and judge.

“Cultivating community through social interaction, team building and fostering camaraderie among faculty members is so important, and events like [the chili cookoff] help promote a sense of belonging, strengthen relationships, and contribute to a positive school culture,” Miller said.

Faculty and staff were able to vote on whose dishes they enjoyed the most, and Miller won overall for his Mexican corn recipe, while network specialist Jenifer Zizzo won first place in the chili category.

“The [chili cookoff] was a nice way to socialize outside of work and show my coworkers that I have talents outside of technology,” Zizzo said.

The student body also participated in celebrating BHM, as the Black Student Union hosted meetings every Friday during February to get students involved in the celebration of Black History. 

Around 20 people attended the weekly meetings, where they helped create flyers to display around school, held a movie night and participated in a potluck event at the end of the month to taste dishes from Black culture. Members of BSU also volunteered to read facts each morning on the announcements during the month, teaching students and staff about African-American history and important figures.

“We really just wanted to inform our Hagerty community about Black history, and help everyone celebrate our heritage, and ended up learning more about our own culture in the process,” BSU president Amy Desroches said. 

BSU’s events are not limited to February; throughout the year, they have also held several programs like a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade and fashion showcase. 

“Community participation in celebrating Black History Month at Hagerty and in the greater Oviedo community helps to foster inclusivity, understanding and appreciation for Black culture and history,” Desroches said.

Miller is also the Student Diversity Coordinator and has made it his goal to push for inclusion and acceptance of diversity on campus. 

“I want for us as a school to raise awareness, educate people about the rich cultural heritage and promote understanding around campus,” Miller said.

In hosting events at Hagerty, BSU effectively creates a safe space for Black students, and for any other students who want to recognize the importance of African American culture on campus and beyond.

“We try to get as many people involved on campus as possible, so people can learn about Black people’s contributions to history and modern society, as well as have people who may not be a part of the Black community gain an understanding about our culture and dismantle any possible stereotypes they may have,” BSU secretary Naomi Bailey said.

Black History Month allows for the studying of Black accomplishments, success, culture and perseverance to allow the Hagerty student body and Americans as a whole to feel united, while also recognizing and celebrating our differences.

“[Black History Month] creates opportunities for dialogue, education and collaboration among diverse groups, strengthening social cohesion and promoting a sense of unity,” Miller said. “This can lead to greater empathy, respect and support for Black individuals and communities, ultimately contributing to a more equitable and harmonious society, and can also inspire individuals to advocate for social justice and work towards creating positive change in their communities.”

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About the Contributors
Kailey Calvo, Print Editor
Kailey Calvo is a junior at Hagerty High School and this is her second year on staff. She is acting secretary of Rho Kappa and treasurer of Girl Up. In addition to being heavily involved in her community, Kailey enjoys traveling, reading, and attending concerts.
Brooke Bohan, Staff Photographer
Brooke is a sophomore at Hagerty High School and this is her second year on staff. Brooke’s passions are in all things related to photography and journalism. She was called as an NSPA 2023 national finalist for a sports action photo. Outside of school, Brooke spends her time skating with her longboard.
Levi Cal-Rivera, Staff Photographer
Levi Cal-Rivera is a senior at Hagerty High School and it's his second year on staff. As Photo Editor, Levi have a passion for photography and photo journalism, he can often be seen wandering the campus with a camera. Under the instruction/judging of Tampa Bay Buccaneer photographer Mike Carlson, Levi won 1st place in Advanced Photography.
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